Voodoo Telecaster Sound Sample

Old friend Hedley Vick, down at The Harp in Little Neston, Cheshire, playing my self-built Voodoo Telecaster.

Guitar was plugged into a Roland Microcube and was recorded (video and audio) on a Samsung Galaxy S and I might add was late into the night and was preceded by several beers.

The Voodoo Telecaster revisited and rewired

While the finish has been drying on my current project, I turned my attention back to the Voodoo Telecaster I built a few months ago. I had never got round to giving it more than a perfunctory setup and nor had I wired in the two push/pull pots that I had fitted. At the time I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with the switches so had just gone with the standard Tele wiring to start off.

Last night a spent a few hours tweaking the truss rod and action. It has transformed the guitar from something that was OK, into a beautifully playable guitar. Now on to the wiring. I’ve decided that the first push/pull pot will be a phase switch. This will of course only work when the pickup selector is in the middle position. It requires a modification to the neck pickup. As standard, one end of the coil is attached to the pickup cover and then on to the ground lead. I’ll snip this connection and run a separate wire to ground the pickup cover.

The second push/pull is going to be a “turbo” which will switch the volume and tone out of the circuit. A passive volume and tone control will sap somewhere between 8-12db from the pickup signal. Bypassing these passive controls gives a big boost. It is at the expense of having any control (other than the pickup selector switch) but it just sounds great when over-driving the pre-amp stage of my valve amp.

Here’s the schematic I’ve sketched out.

The neck pickup first goes to the phase switch which effectively flips the pickup’s coil round in the circuit. From there it joins up with the bridge pickup at the selector switch. The selector switch goes into the “turbo” switch. When engaged the signal is routed through to the standard Tele master volume/tone controls. When disengaged the output from the selector switch goes directly to the hot of the jack socket.

Edit 1: After completing the rewiring and playing with it for an hour or two I decided to disconnect the “turbo” volume/tone bypass. It just wasn’t working for me. I had previously tried this with humbuckers and P90s and loved it, but with the sharp, cutting single coil pickups it just didn’t sound as I expected. I’m going to investigate the “Arlo Cocked Wah” mod.

Edit 2: I’ve just spotted why the “turbo” mod wasn’t working as I’d hoped. If you trace the scematic through, then you can see, when the turbo mode is engaged, is still allows a path to ground for the hot signal via the vol and tone pots. No wonder I didn’t like the sound, it would have been the same except the volume knob wouldn’t work properly. To correct it I need to use the second poles of the turbo switch to disconnect the vol/tone part of the circuit from the hot. When I get time, I’ll redraw the schematic and retry this mod.

A cheap chrome switch tip for a Telecaster

I was unhappy with the fit and finish of the standard black plastic Telecaster switch tip on my Voodoo Tele.

I set off searching for a knurled chrome replacement. Despite the size, there is still a lot of work in making one of these and so they’re not cheap. Then I had a brainwave. The switch tip is about the same size as a tyre valve cap. A quick visit to eBay and I had secured myself five “switch tips” for the princely sum of £1.99 (inl P&P).

I removed the rubber sealing washer from one.

I masked of the surface of the guitar and used a pair of wire cutters to crimp a couple of slots into the side of the switch stem.

I mixed up a small amount of bondo (Isopon P38 that I had left over from the Jazzmangle project) and used a cocktail stick to fill the valve cap. I think any epoxy resin would work equally well.

And here’s the finished result. Cool and cheap. What more can you ask for?

Voodoo Telecaster: Reshaping the neck profile

As I mentioned in my last post I wasn’t 100% happy with the neck profile. This is down to my lack of experience and the flaws with the neck shape didn’t become apparent until I put strings on it and I had chance to play. Thankfully the neck is finished in Danish oil and so taking off a little more wood and then refinishing is relatively simple.

I used a cabinet scraper to remove the excess. This has become one of my favourite tools, removing wood almost as quickly as a rasp but with more control and leaving a smoother finish.

Once I’d got the shape I sanded it to 320 grit. Dampened it to raise the grain and then lightly resanded.

And applied four coats of Danish oil.

Tomorrow morning it’ll get sanded back with 600 and then a number of very thin coats during the day, at an interval of 1-2 hours and that should be enough.

Voodoo Telecaster: Finished

Well yesterday I ran out of patience. The VOC smell had gone and I couldn’t mark the lacquer when pressed in the pickup rout with a fingernail, so it got sanded back with 1200 and then 1500 and polished with a auto paint restorer followed by a good thick coating of wax polish.

Late yesterday and today I got it setup close to how I like but I’ll leave the neck under tension for a couple of weeks before finalising the truss rod adjustment and the nut slots.

After playing it for a couple of hours I’ve decided that I’m not 100% happy with the neck profile. That’s the beauty of the Danish oil finish though. I’ve just been able to break out the cabinet scrapers and reprofile the neck. I’ll play it for a few more hours tonight to see how it feels and, if I’m happy with it, refinish the neck tomorrow.

Making guitar nuts from bone

I’ve been keeping my eye out for beef bones for the last couple of weeks. Strangely it is not something my local butcher keeps because there is no great demand for them and they have to pay to dispose of them. Luckily I was at a local pet store and found some suitable candidates.

I boiled them for 3 hours with a little detergent, changing the water every hour.

I then set them to dry in the sun for an hour, followed by 2 hours in a very low oven to completely dry them out.

After a quick run through the band saw, it was obvious that two of the bones were not going to be up to the job because of the porous areas, although there may be enough material for making bone saddles for an acoustic, so I’ve put them to one side.

For the Voodoo Telecaster’s nut I selected this piece.

I cut four nut sized pieces from this and have put them in a jar with just a little Zippo lighter fluid. After a day this will be drained, they’ll be allowed to dry and then back into the jar with more of the lighter fluid for a couple of weeks.

The source for the process I’m following is the Acoustic Guitar Forum. Where this post by “AnthemBassMan” appears to be the definitive word on bone preparation (based on his experience as a curator for the vertebrate exhibits at a museum).

Voodoo Telecaster: More Danish oil

Over the past three days the back and neck have had around 12 coats of Danish oil. After leaving it overnight in a warm room it was ready for the final coats of the oil finish.

I flatted it back using wet 600 grit paper, with just a tiny dab of washing up liquid in the water.

I cleaned and dried this off and then applied the final coats of oil. And here is the back finished.

It’ll now go back in the warm room to dry. The only thing left to do to it will be to give it a light buff and wax polish, which I’ll do at the same time I’m finishing off the top.